Mumbai: Woman in debt after childbirth, while bank sits on her money
mid-day follow-up: She had to borrow from family and friends to pay for the delivery, despite the bank's assurances of releasing her money after this paper highlighted her plight
After five months of chasing officials from the City Co-operative Bank so she could withdraw her own money for her baby's delivery, Clera Aguiar finally gave birth this month. She had to borrow around Rs 60,000 from family and friends for the labour, and medical expenses are still mounting with her newborn in poor health. And still, her money remains stuck in the bank.
This, despite the bank's assurance that they would provide every possible assistance after mid-day first reported on her plight on August 5. Clera had made a fixed deposit of Rs 1 lakh in the bank with the very intention of saving for the childbirth. This paper had reported that thanks to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) placing restrictions on the bank due to its precarious financial condition, Clera's money was co-opted to keep the co-op afloat, while she was left drowning in expenses.
"When the news was got published in mid-day, a bank official visited my house several times.
After the delivery, they assured they would provide every possible help, but they are yet to give me a single paisa. I had to borrow from friends and relatives so I could pay the bill and get discharge from hospital after six days," said Clera, who gave birth in a Mira Road hospital on October 2.
A day earlier, Clera's sister Sweedal Nayar had called the bank and asked them to release the money. "We got no response to our calls or messages. One official responded and said it was a bank holiday. They said we would have to submit the FD form and a cheque with Clera's signature, and only then could they help her," recalled Sweedal, adding, "We were all upset. If they had told us this earlier, we could have made arrangements."
This is not what the bank had promised. Branch manager Santosh Nerurkar admitted, "After the article was published in mid-day, we wrote her a letter stating that a misunderstanding had led to this unwarranted and unpleasant situation. We humbly requested her not to visit the branch, the bank would arrange to depute our personnel to her residence to issue a cheque to the hospital for 50 per cent of the estimated expenses. The balance amount would be paid to the hospital at the time of discharge."
Two days later, two bank officers went to the hospital and handed a greeting card and bouquet to Clera. Her sister said angrily, "What good is a greeting card or bouquet? She needs her money more."
The newborn's health has been poor, and he is under treatment with a child specialist. "We learnt that the baby has a fracture near the shoulder bone. His specialists charge thousands in one-time consultation fees. I have not been able to talk to the bank officials, due to my son's poor health and the constant rounds of hospitals," said Clera.
Santosh Nerurkar, branch manager, said, "We took approval for this case from the RBI, but now that she has paid, they can send the bills to us. We will send our employee with a demand draft for the same amount. We were willing to provide our help but we are bound by the RBI's rules."
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